Elizabeth Warren and the SEC Should Let the GameStop Lulz Go On
Sometimes these feats, which can range from speed runs to accessing game areas never meant to be explored, can take years of effort. Other times, they take hours or days, with puzzles meant to take months (or secrets meant to stay hidden forever) unlocked with unexpected rapidity. In every case, the secret is players working together, usually in an ad hoc fashion, loosely—and I mean very loosely—coordinating via online forums.
These exploits have varying purposes: to beat intentionally designed in-game challenges, to map the vulnerabilities and quirks of a game’s architecture, to secure loot drops or other high-level prizes, or just to brag about what you and your community have done online. Why climb the mountain? Because it’s there.
So one way of looking at the crowdsourced escalation of stock prices for GameStop, AMC Theaters, and other companies over the last few days—coordinated largely but not exclusively through the meme- and profanity-laced Reddit forum WallStreetBets—is as an inevitable advancement of online video game culture, and the prankish, puckish spirit of both earnest and mock heroism that flows through so many of these efforts. This was a meme-managed, crowdsourced effort to exploit a quirk in the financial system, to test its limits, and, in a way, to break the game.
The “players” involved did it for any number of reasons. There was a belief that it would afflict the powerful by causing hedge funds that bet heavily on GameStop’s decline to lose money. There was a desire for personal gain—not loot drops, but the real money that at least some of these inve
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